Encyclopedia of Japanese flour


Arrowroot starch "Honkudzu ko"

It is starch from arrowroot (kudzu). This has the highest quality among all kinds of starch. It is usually sold with the name of the producing area.
For example, there are Yoshino-kudzu from Nara prefecture and Chikuzen-kudzu from Fukuoka prefecture.
However, there are products with the name "Kudzu flour" even though it is not made of arrowroot starch which confuses consumers.
Arrowroot starch is costly, but it is popular as material for Japanese sweets with high quality and as the material for a herb medicine.

Bracken-starch dumpling flour "Warabimochi ko"

It is starch of sweet potato. Kyūshū area is the production center and it is produced especially in Kagoshima and Miyazaki prefecture. This is the most produced starch in Japan and most of this starch is used as material in food industries. Industries use bracken starch for making starch syrup, glucose (grape sugar), paste, edible processed goods, feed and alcohol.
Bracken-starch dumpling (warabimochi) is beloved summer sweets especially in Western Japan.

Burned barley/rye flour "Hattai ko / mugikogashi"

We make this flour in eastern Japan with barley and in western Japan with rye. In some areas, they use corn or millet to make this flour.
We parch the material and burn it to make this flour. We usually eat this flour with sugar as it is, or we can knead it with hot water to eat them sometimes.
This burned flour is also used to make a hard and dainty sweet mixed with sugar (mugirakugan) and this sweet is a specialty in Tatebayashi city in Gunma prefecture, eastern Japan. In western japan this kind of flour is called "hattaiko," but there are many other names such as "kogashi", "irimugi", "mugairiko", "mugikousen" and "ochirashi." It was popular as drink and simple teacakes and snack in summer to forget the summer heat.

Corn starch

Corn starch is the starch from the corn seed, and the starch from sweet corn is called waxy starch. We soak the seeds in sulfur water, grind them, remove embryos and then grind them again into pieces. Then we dehydrate and dry settled starch to make this starch. This starch has high purity and is pure white and odorless. The grains of this kind of starch are very fine. Therefore it is used as material in food industries. Domestically the use is almost the same as potato starch.

Dōmyōji flour

We steam glutinous rice, dry and grind to make Dōmyōji dried cooked rice. Then we break it into pieces to make Dōmyōji flour. It is mostly used as material for Sakura mochi and Tsubaki mochi.
Dōmyōji is a temple in Fujīdera-city in Osaka prefecture. Once in Dōmyōji temple they provided an offering removed from the altar and the offering is beloved by people. Therefore the temple has started to keep the dried cooked rice previously. This story is said to be the beginning of this flour.

Dumpling flour "Dango ko"

We polish non-glutinous rice and glutinous rice, soak them in water, break them into pieces and dehydrate to make Dango flour.
Sometimes starch is added. The ratio of non-glutinous rice and glutinous rice combination is different. The more non-glutinous rice is added, the chewier becomes dumplings when compared to dumplings made with rice flour or mochi flour. Because Dumpling flour is not too soft, it is easy to make dumplings with it.

Flour used for pounding steamed rice "Mochitori ko"

It is also called "Tekona". We use usually Non-glutinous rice flour "Joshin ko",
potato starch or corn starch when we pound steamed rice to prevent the rice cake stick to hand or to the plate.

Flour for Kashiwamochi "Kashiwamochi ko"

We make this product only in certain season around the Boys' Festival, 5th of May, for consumers who make Kashiwa dumpling, a dumpling which contains bean jam and is wrapped in an oak(Kashiwa) leaf. According to manufacturer, they sometimes put only non-glutinous rice flour (Joshin flour), or they sometimes mix starch such as potato starch into it. The reason of adding starch is because it makes the dumpling crispier so that it does not stick to the oak leaf, which wraps Kashiwa dumpling.

Glutinous rice flour "Mochi ko"

We polish glutinous rice, soak it into water, grind it, and dry it to make Glutinous rice flour.
Sometimes non-glutinous rice and starch are added. It is used for making dumplings and the dumplings are glutinous and smooth. It takes fewer steps to make glutinous rice flour when compared to the number of steps to make rice flour and it costs less. Therefore there is a huge demand for mochi flour as material for Japanese sweets especially by manufacturer.

Non-glutinous rice flour "Joshin ko"

We polish non-glutinous rice, soak them in water, break them into pieces and dehydrate them to make Non-glutinous rice flour. Because we do not use glutinous rice to make this flour, it is more suitable for making chewy dumpling. In family it is used for making "mitarashi", dumplings on a skewer with soy sauce and sugar and "kashiwamochi", a dumpling with bean jam inside wrapped in an oak leaf.
Manufacturers use non-glutinous rice flour as material for Japanese sweets and this flour is the most produced kind of rice flour.

Potato starch "Katakuri ko"

It is starch from potatoes. Almost all the potato starch is made from "Bareisho" potato in Hokkaidō prefecture. It is also famous as material in food industries and used for starch syrup and processed marine product such as a tubular roll of boiled fish paste "chikuwa", and a boiled fish paste "kamaboko". Potato starch is also used domestically to make starchy sauce for food and a thickener for food.

Rice flour "Shiratama ko"

Rice flour, also called "Kanzarashi," is made of glutinous rice.
In the old times it was produced in the depths of winter where people can get running water, but now we can manufacture the flour all year round.
First, we polish the glutinous rice, next, we put them into water until it becomes soft. Then we grind the glutinous rice together with water.
After that we de-water and compress it to make a white ball shape. The ball shape is made into smaller round shapes and dried. Rice flour with good quality should be white, shiny, completely dried and minute. When we boil the rice flour it becomes not only soft but also elastic.
The rice balls which don't become hard when they are cooled after boiling are of good quality.
It has a smooth taste which is different from mochi, and it is typically used to wrap of sweets "gyūhi" and flour dumplings (shiratama dango), and are materials for high-quality Japanese sweets.

Refined wheat starch flour "Uki ko"

We call refined wheat starch flour "Ukiko" or "Hon ukiko." Sometimes sweet potato starch is substituted for refined wheat starch. It is used for making thin wrapping steamed bean-jam bun and wrapping of gyōza. It is also used when we make omelet and takoyaki because this flour makes them fluffy.

Soybean flour "kinako" / Green soybean flour "aokinako"

This flour is made of roasted soybeans. First we break the beans roughly and peel them. Then we grind them into pieces. There is also a kind of the flour that we make without peeling the beans. Usually yellow soybeans are used to make soybean flour, but the flour made of blue soybeans is called Green soybean flour "aokinako" or Bush warbler soybean flour "uguisukinako". The color is pale green and the scent of the flour is different from the yellow one. We use soybean flour for making Japanese sweets and making "abekawa mochi", a rice cake dusted with soybean flour. The flour contains starch, protein and fat and therefore is nourishing. The proteins in soybeans is certainly good in quality but hard to digest.
This problem is solved by processing soybeans, and powdered one such as soybean flour is more digestible than roasted soybeans and boiled soybeans.